The exponential growth of technologies is something we’re witnessing on a daily basis, and it offers unique opportunities to maximize business productivity – maybe not the most surprising of assessments, but an important one nonetheless!
New technologies mean new tools, and new tools mean new ways to optimize your business processes. The inundation of new processes may make it difficult to choose the right one; by taking the proper steps before implementing a strategy, you mitigate the risk of wasted resources.
Start with market research. Now, market research can be a malleable definition – some may decide to perform little more than a Google search. But for those who are truly serious about market research – identifying trends, recognizing target markets, analyzing customer experience, exploring industry forecasts – the process is both critically important and time-consuming.
Utilizing educational resources online like eBooks, whitepapers, blogs, webinars, is one way to build your knowledge foundation. This often means subscribing to journals and scouring the wealth of information for key findings that are relevant to your business. It’s a worthy cause, without question, but it can be painstaking.
Another, less time-consuming, way to perform market research is to seek the assistance of a business consultant or advisory group. These groups are excellent resources because they are tapped into a massive community that is literally teeming with new tools from tried-and-true to cutting-edge. Business consultants may have an inside track on case studies, special access to reports, and an extensive network – without you needing to do the work.
Implementing a new tactic can be daunting, but utilizing Best Practices guides is a good way to know you’re on the right track. Of course, industrial Best Practices are fantastic jump-off points, but individual best practices need to be tweaked to reflect your business. A brave proposition at best, customizing your own “Best Practices” is something that is best done in coordination with a professional.
Fortunately, the number of resources on Best Practices in essentially every industry is truly staggering. The real benefit of utilizing Best Practices is the fact that these methods have been PROVEN successful. Identifying industry leaders and comparing your performance to theirs enables you to eliminate the guesswork in planning a strategy…if, of course, you benchmark properly.
Benchmarking must not be – yet often is – underestimated. But truth be told, implementing a new tool without a comprehensive benchmarking report is like starting a game without the pieces! Benchmarking is good for multiple reasons, but I’ll discuss two here.
First, benchmarking is a perfect way to customize strategies based on proven industry best practices. Having a comprehensive analysis will enable you to chart a plan of action complete with achievable goals, realistic deadlines, and responsiveness to market trends. In short, knowing where you are will help you to figure out where you’re headed. Blind decision-making rarely works out well for any party.
Second, it is absolutely crucial to establish a starting point before implementing a new tool. If you’ve got no indication of where you are, like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, you have no indication of where you’re going. Use benchmark reports to set a baseline, and constantly analyze your new metrics against that start point. Without a comprehensive report, you will be missing out on incredible opportunities to improve your productivity and overall operations.
But where’s the proof it’s working? Quantifying the improvements may seem stressful…but have no fear – statistics are here!
In a recent survey we conducted, we asked respondents – 71% of whom identified themselves as OEMs – what improvements they saw with their service metrics when utilizing KM tools. Table 1 shows a bit of what we learned:
Knowledge Management tools can clearly offer significant improvement in service performance metrics. I’d say that’s a good argument for adding KM to your SLM optimization toolkit. Would you agree?